the following pages an attempt is made to relate what
the author has seen, heard, and observed of the Mandaeans
of Iraq and Iran. Observations were made over
a number of years and furnish a considerable body of new
evidence as to their customs, beliefs, cults, and magic.
This evidence, we submit, is useful, not only to the student
of anthropology, folk-lore, and ethnology, but to students
of the history of religions, for the Mandaeans are what
the doctor calls a case of arrested development. Their
cults, which are regarded by them as more sacred than
their books, and older, have been tenaciously retained;
their ritual, in all its detail, most carefully preserved by a
priesthood who regard a slip in procedure as a deadly sin.
Segregated since the coming of Islam from those amongst
whom they dwell by peculiarities of cult, custom, language,
and religion, they have kept intact and inviolate the
heritage which they had from their fathers.